Read more by Dr. Dorree Lynn
Most of us after 50 have been raised on the seductive fairy tale ideal of romantic redemption. It's hard to shake off the fantasy that Cinderella will someday be swept off her feet by Prince Charming, who happens to know exactly where to find her missing glass slipper. In real life, that fragile shoe probably broke a long time ago, and the prince is likely still a toad (perhaps with both warts and potential). Or, that the knight in shining armor will always find his perfect Gwenevere.
We live in the real world, not Planet Perfect. What you are looking for is a good match, even a diamond in the rough, a comfortable partner, or some true chemistry you can't order off a menu. We are all in the process of growing as people. Part of growing up is learning to love and accept people as they really are – including yourself.
Try thinking of dating as less of a romantic quest, and more of a shopping task, a life project with a goal. That may seem terribly unromantic right now, but the truth is, being pragmatic at the start does not mean you can't be romantic later on. In fact, just the opposite is true. Being goal-oriented at the start will save you tons of unproductive fishing time and lead you faster to your catch.
However, the goal is not marriage (although dating may eventually lead to that), but rather meeting lots of people with potential and finding someone who is a good fit for you, someone you can learn from and grow with, someone with whom you can wake up in the morning and feel good about life. Later, if you want to go the next step, marriage can be explored. Love and marriage are deeply fulfilling with someone who is a good fit. Hopefully, it's not puppy love or rescue-dog love, but a real connection that can grow. After all, you probably don't want to sign up for the dating circuit again, if you can help it.
Once you've decided someone is worth your time, try to look for and find the good in your partner. You don't have to marry them or even go on a second date, but cautiously focusing on the positive is a good habit to get into. Cautious optimism will keep you looking for the good while realizing there are some frogs out there. If you decide on your first date that he or she is a frog, keep in mind that some nice people may not have much dating experience. Even someone who is bad at dating may be good at partnering, so try to keep an open mind. Of course, the flip side is also true: some very excellent daters may make lousy partners. You may have to date someone for a while before figuring out what kind of fish you've landed.